“DC Universe Presents” is, at least for now, a prime example of a good comic saddled with a horrible title. I’m still unconvinced that lumping a series of mini-series together under this umbrella title will result in better sales overall, but like all things, clearly time will tell.
What I am convinced of, though, is that Paul Jenkins and Bernard Chang are providing a strong opening storyline for this comic, which stars Deadman. Jenkins divides the comic into two different and distinct sections; the part where Deadman helps his current host, and the part where Deadman tries to get proactive on helping himself.
The part with the host is entertaining, if only because it lets us see just how he works his magic (so to speak), and it addresses the fact that his hosts don’t actually remember what happens while they’re possessed. The comment, “And that’s where I’ll leave my boy for a while; in the company of a pretty girl, wondering how the hell he got there” is perfect because it brings Deadman’s personality to the foreground while also recognizing the potential limitation for Deadman helping others to get back on track.
The more interesting part of the comic, though, is Deadman trying to figure out the mystery of what his real purpose in the afterlife is. The opening scene is good enough (although even Deadman knows that she’s lying, a leap that the reader doesn’t have to make on their own), but it’s the second half of the comic that pushes this from entertaining to sheer fun. Deadman’s body-hopping stunt to get into a building with mystical wards and creatures is a riot; it’s a real inventiveness on the part of Jenkins to keep the sequence ever-shifting and not getting old. By the time Deadman’s accidentally on stage during a monster cabaret, it’s hard to keep from laughing at the growing absurdity of the situation.
It helps that Chang’s artwork looks great again. He’s been using his cleaner, crisper style for this comic and it’s a good match for the script. It accentuates the mixture of gaunt and acrobat on Deadman’s body, and the uncluttered forms let the little details (I especially love the flapper creature from the black lagoon on stage) pop for the reader’s attention. Every page is impeccably laid out, and Chang does a good job of focusing our gaze on just the right element of a scene or panel. It’s a sharp looking comic.
“DC Universe Presents” #2 carries on from the comic’s strong debut; we’ve had a lot of Deadman lately between “Brightest Day” and “Justice League Dark,” but of all his various appearances, I feel that “DC Universe Presents” has delivered the best Deadman material to date. If you’ve never read a comic with him before, this is an excellent place to begin.